a blue post box with several floating emails flying out of it

Five Mistakes When Migrating Email

At some point in our working lives most businesses will have to migrate their email from one system to a new one.

The biggest fear is that during the migration, emails will become lost and inaccessible, as well as there being disruption to the email service which could have an impact on your business. However, to ensure your email migration goes smoothly with minimum disruption try to avoid these five common mistakes.

Not Checking Archive Files

Once emails have been downloaded into the email client, like Outlook / Thunderbird / Mac Mail the majority of older servers will store them locally, in order to preserve the server space. This is also the case if your email client is running on the back of webhosting where space is restricted.

Anything stored locally in this way won’t migrate, and effectively could be lost.

But to prevent this from happening do a search for .PST files in Windows and .mbox in Mac before starting the migration.

Also look at the ‘webmail’ version of your emails to ensure they look the same  – so old emails  which you can see in Outlook also appear in webmail – as this will help you work out where your mail actually resides on the system.

There is lots of helpful information on the internet about how to ensure these files are migrated along with the active files on the server.

A comprehensive guide can be found here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compliance/use-network-upload-to-import-pst-files?view=o365-worldwide

Not Planning for Downtime

Regardless of what system you use, when processing a migration you have to prepare for some downtime. Whilst on average, Office 365 and Google may only be inaccessible for 1-2 hours there is the possibility that this process can take up to 24 hours.

Essentially this process takes so long as the system has to flush through the local DNS cache and update the information for each specific domain name.

Therefore decide when would be the quietest time to complete the migration. Many businesses choose to do this over the weekend or after office hours when there is more time to troubleshoot any potential problems, as well as ensuring staff aren’t disrupted in their work.  SupportWise does this at the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) with a planned site visit on the Monday to get everybody back up and running again.

Not Telling End Users

It’s all very well preparing for downtime and organising the migration to take place at a certain time, but you are guaranteed problems if you have not told all end users about this interruption to service.

Additionally it needs to be made clear to employees and contractors exactly how they access their ‘new’ email following the migration as well as informing them of any new login requirements (e.g. two-factor authentication, new passwords). Remember when communicating with your team to keep it simple – when the migration will happen and exactly what you expect them to do and when.

Not Setting a Separate Recovery Email on the Administrators Account.

No matter how careful you are, with any migration things can go wrong. However, by planning for this you can ensure you can troubleshoot any problems simply and efficiently.

When setting up a new mail server, ensure that there are at least two administrator accounts, without mailboxes, and both with Two-Factor Authentication setup.

Should the password need to be recovered, set the recovery email to something personal – possibly set up a gmail/outlook/protonmail account just for this purpose.

Therefore if the networked emails are not accessible you will still be able to access the recovery information from a third-party email client.

Without this back-up you could be locked out of the administrator’s account, mid-transition, with no method of recovery.

Contacts, Calendars and Notes and Permissions do not Transfer Across

Once the migration has completed there will be a wrap-up session where you will need to import any old calendars, contacts and notes. All those little things that can easily go missing.  

Additionally for those with access to specific mailboxes or calendars, all permissions will need to be reset and new login details passed to the end users.

Make sure before you start the migrations, that you are aware of which members of staff have access to which mailboxes and calendars.

There is plenty of advice online about how to export contacts such as here: https://support.office.com/en-ie/article/export-contacts-from-outlook-10f09abd-643c-4495-bb80-543714eca73f

And how to export the calendars here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/export-an-outlook-calendar-to-google-calendar-662fa3bb-0794-4b18-add8-9968b665f4e6

A migration from one email client to another is a big job, and one that is fraught with potential problems. If you would like some advice on how to go about it or even if you would like to discuss the possibility of SupportWise carrying out the migration for you please do not hesitate to contact us.